Monday, September 25, 2017

Hotel Review: The Grand Bohemian, Ashville NC

I can't go into details on why the hell I stayed at this hotel. I was there on somebody else's dime. And although I thouroughly enjoyed myself, I still can't name names. You understand

Urban Dictionary describes Bohemian as "Somebody who leads an alternative lifestyle, they are not hippies because they can have an extremly wide range of different tastes in music, fashion, art, literature etc. They are usually very creative people. They are above all optimists, even if they can be very cynical too (it does make sense...sort of). They like wearing a mixture of wierd clothes and mix different fashions together just for the heck of it. They like weed. Genrally very laid back and relaxed."

Oxford Online Dictionary describes Bohemian as "A socially unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts."

The Dandy Warhols have a great song called "Bohemian Like You"  I suggest you listen to it, its pretty damn funny. Actually, just watch the damn video.

I have no idea why this hotel was called "The Grand Bohemian" to me it looked more like an expensive hunting cabin. Ya, there was some art floating around, but I've been in coffee shops more "bohemian". And I certainly didn't see any stoners around.

Located just across from the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, I knew this place was going to be pretty posh. Hell, even the entry into Vallet parking area was covered with big red (possibly velvet) drapes.

A beautiful day in Ashville. Can ya see those drapes over the driveway?

Oh, before I get too deep here...I want to state that all the staff were very friendly. There was no hint of distain for my tatooed self walking around in here. From the Front Desk Conciergey Guy to the Valets to the Food Servers, they were all great, effecient and friendly.

Allright the Lobby...Big glass doors, double doors, bring you into the lobby, a very dark lobby. There's nice smell in the air coming from several candles burning at the front desk. It kinda felt like Yankee Candle meets a bat cave. Turns out you could purchase those same candles for a cool thirty five bones.

There's a nice fire place centered in the lobby. It's not burning, as it's essentially still summer here in the Carolinas. But above the fireplace, there's a stuffed fox. Gross. Looking around a bit more all I see is deer horns and stuffed animals. This is not Bohemian, this is barbaric. I decline going into the on-site art gallery. If this place calls deer heads art, I want nothing to do with it. There's Starbucky type music coming from somewhere, I had expected to see Monks singing in an alcove. There's some paintings on display in the corner.

Putting a stupid hat on a dead animal doesn't make it art.

Even the elevator has dead animal in it. There's a mirror on each side of the elevator surrounded by some kind of animal fur. I think it actually may have been Polar Bear.

I look particularly ugly in this photo.

Our room was on the second floor. And I guess the second floor was dedicated to the Indians? (Native American, not tech support.) There's paintings decorating the walls as far as I can see of misc Indian portraits and landscapes. Some of them were pretty nice. But holy shit, they wanted almost three grand for some of them. There was one painting that Heathers 8yr old could have done and there was a $2750 price tag on it!

I don't pay for art, I certainly don't pay $2750 for advanced finger painting

Our room had two queen beds in it. We didn't feel the need to check for bed bugs. This place runs around $300 a night, I don't see bedbugs being an issue.  The beds are pretty damn cumfy. We did actually think about stripping the beds to sleep on the floor like we do at home, but the beds seemed a novelty we should enjoy.

The furniture in the room is dark, not H.R. Geiger dark, but dark in hue.

H.R. Geiger. Very Dark.

 It's quality furniture no doubt about it, but it felt like medieval noblemans bedroom. The table lamps are decorated with deer horns. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

A little bit of 21st century though, we did have a nice Bose system playing when we walked in. Boy, if I could afford one of those Bose things...Ya ever hear the quality of those? Amazing.

There's also a TV. A flat screen that surprisingly wasn't encased in Zebra skin.

The wall separating the bedroom and bathroom is essentially a double door. The HUGE bath is built right up to the wall. Its kind of neat if one of you wants to take a bath and talk with someone in the bedroom. Or if you want to jump from the bed into the tub. The water pressure and temperature for the tub was great.

You gotta pay to see me naked in a bathtub.

I'm trying to be thorough on this review!! Unfortunately I don't have all the pictures available as I thought, which sucks, so use your imagination.

The shower stall has an overhead spout, so the water comes straight down on ya. It's nice. The stone floor is kind of neat and there's a little bench in there. I guess rich people don't believe in gaskets though. The glass door to the shower has nothing to prevent water from shooting out either side. So if you stand real still, no water gets on the floor. Lazy rich people, I like to do stuff in the shower.

The shitter stall also has a glass door! So the shitter is separated from the sinks and bath tub, but only with a glass door. It's a quality low-flush commode, but if you forgot to close the weird saloon style doors from the bedroom, the whole place now can see you wiping your butt. The toilet paper was fluffy. You can see it mounted against the wall in the above photos.

We spent a bit of time in the 4th floor conference room. It too was decked out with ugly Victorian-ish d├ęcor. There's a bunch of crystal chandeliers hanging about. Again, all quality high-brow shit, but soooo ugly.

I was told this piano is one of only seven produced. 

Do rich people like this kind of thing because they grew up with it? I don't know any poor people that like this kind of decor. I think we can all appreciate the amount of work that must go into making a crystal chandelier, but it's still ugly. That being said, all the food we were served was very, very good.

I did get to spend a bit of time in the bar downstairs. Dark as a pocket and just off the main lobby, it felt just like the rest of the hotel. Honestly I didnt look around the bar too much as I was quickly flabbergasted and amazed by the drinks menu. I've never seen so many kinds of bourbon served in one place. A new bud of mine was drinking a THIRTY SEVEN DOLLAR glass of bourbon. Yes, 37 bones for three fingers of bourbon. Even though I was on someones else's dime, I opted for the cheaper $17 dollar glass of Bookers. Which was good, obviously. The wifey had couple of Mandarin Vodka drinks which she said were poured quite generously.

Reading all this you may thing I hated this place. Well, I didn't. It was old and ugly and I never want to be around taxidermy, but it was very well kept and clean. I was only here overnight and have no regrets. 
Would I recommend this joint? Meaning, would I recommend this joint to anyone that might even bother reading this blog?
If you're going to pay 300 a night for a place to stay, get something fun and modern, the overall atmosphere here was oppressive and heavy. I guess if you're into oppressive and heavy this would be a great place, otherwise find someplace fun to stay in Ashville.

This is my first review of a hotel. I have tried to hit on all the points that I think would be of importance to anyone that bothers reading this blog. Definitely let me know what other kinds of points you'd like me to report on below.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Product Review: Hoka Clayton 2

High Fiving a mini-lobster guy.

I've been wearing Hokas for just over one year.  I bought my first pair of Challenger 2 ATRs last spring from a local running store here in Myrtle Beach.

Did I do a review on those? ACK, I didn't. No link for you.

Anyway, after tweaking the lacing system, I ran those things into the ground. Typically 500 miles is the maximum distance you should get out of a running shoe, pretty sure I doubled that.
But, all good sneakers must come to an end, so I did chuck them and instead got the Bondi 5 for my road miles and two pair of Stinson 3 for my trail miles.

Now, I love both of these shoes. I used to be a major heel striker, and the plush cushioning in these shoes are very, very forgiving if your running form is less than ideal. After at least 500 to 600 miles, I still have all three pair and run in them regularly with no issues.

So you can tell I'm a Hoka fan, ya?

A little more about me here...I'm working on my running form. I'm trying, trying, trying to forefoot/midfoot strike regularly, and it's starting to work out.

To increase my mileage AND continue my journey to forefoot striking, I thought I'd try a new shoe. And ta-da! I got this:
The Clayton 2.

Even after 10k, these shoes are cleaner than our community pool

That's a pretty cool looking sneaker. I'm sorry if you don't like it. You probably don't like sushi either.

Let me look at how many miles I've got in this thing...Garmin says 52. That feels about right. I think that's pretty decent mileage to judge and review a sneaker. You?

This is what Hoka says aboot the Clayton 2: "Redefining what's possible with a fast shoe, this lightweight marvel boasts a PRO2Lite dual density midsole, which makes for a forgiving landing and responsive toe off. The CLAYTON 2's responsiveness is further enhanced by the RMAT outsole which eliminates the excess weight of traditional rubber. This is a truly premium offering for those looking for a lightweight and responsive shoe. A refined midfoot fit and wide base makes this an uber comfortable and stable ride. The Clayton 2 is ready to compete when you are"

Blah, blah, blah. Nobody knows what the hell PRO2Lite or RMAT is except the geeks that designed the shoe. (Thank you geeks!)
In normal-people terms this means you get a light weight comfy shoe that's gonna give you some bang for your buck rebound with every step.

I'll continue and add: This is a comfortable and fast shoe. Is it a racing flat? No, duh.  It's road running shoe. 

Kinda grungy picture of the bottom

It's light! I said that. But it is. You'd probably think it weighs a ton, but a size 9 only weighs in a 8.3oz. The weight in the upper is kept down with a pretty breathable mesh-type fabric with some cool looking overlays. I have yet to determine if that overlay is reflective. You tell me.

It's comfortable! I said that. But it is. We've got a pretty good amount of cushion here. 28mm of cush in the heel, dropping to 24mm into the forefoot. That gives us a 4 millimeter drop. That small amount of drop makes this a great shoe for the forefoot/midfoot strikers out there. But I've found if I do need to heel strike for some reason, the shoe is forgiving on my foot.

They don't even stink!

I found the fit to be spot on. I'm currently sporting size 11's in most of the shoes at the shop. The Clayton 2 does not have an Altra shaped toe box, but there is plenty of room up front for my toes to do their toe thing. My heel stays nice and secure in the back of this kick without having to Runner Knot it.

I have had ZERO blistering issues. It's freeking hot and muggy running in Myrtle Beach right now. After even just 3miles any shoe I wear is soaked with sweat. Havent blistered in these, even after 12miles. Wear quality socks people, it helps. If you do get blistering, I'd bet dollars to donuts a little body glide, or something similar, on your feet would help prevent that. Maybe.

I put my shoes in the washing machine. Ya, I do. I'm not using bleach or fabric softner or any of that. But I have to wash my shoes after every summer run here, and the Claytons are no exception. After 4 or 5 washes, there has been no visible damage to the shoe, and it runs as comfortably as day one. (Advice: Do NOT put any of  your shoes in the dryer or put in direct sunlight. THEY WILL SHRINK AND DISTORT.) We have the air conditioning cranked and my Claytons typically dry 100% in less than 36hrs. Simply loosen the laces a bunch, remove the insert and let 'em sit.

Oh hey, another great thing, these have heel loops on the back!! 2 reasons that's great: A) Makes it easier to get the shoe on if you're too lazy to unlace it properly. C) You can 'biner them to your bag after your run.

Can we get a picture of what I'm talking about here?


All shoes should have heel loops. I dont want to put my nasty shoes in my bag.

I'm getting hungry. Probably gonna make a fake bacon and lettuce sandwich or two. Have a coke. Maybe watch some WWII doco on the telly.

If you happen to be Hoka-curious, I would highly recommend this shoe, or maybe the Challenger. I gotta try the 3 though.

Anyway, thanks for reading!